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Munich Philharmonic (pt. 2 of 2)

One of Germany's big-name orchestras this hour: the Munich Philharmonic. Under guest conductor Semyon Bychkov, they give a moving rendition of Dvorak's New World Symphony.

Founded in 1893, the Munich Philharmonic has had some very notable conductors, including Gustav Mahler, who led it in the world premieres of his Fourth and Eighth Symphonies. Its principal conductors in more recent history include, most notably, Sergiu Celibidache, the Rumanian-born German maestro who served from 1979 until his death in 1996. Following Celibadache, American James Levine had a five-year stint. He was succeeded by German maestro Christian Thielemann, followed in 2012 by the American Lorin Maazel, who led the musicians up to his unexpected death in July 2014. Maazel's successor beginning in the 2015/16 season is Russian conductor Valery Gergiev.

Most indelilbly linked with the orchestra, however, is still Sergiu Celibidache, who for decades refused to have any recordings released. The philosophy was that every performance is unique, each is different, in the here-and-now and should thus not be preserved. After the conductor's death some recordings were released, however, and have enjoyed cult status among "Celi" fans.

We have a sample this hour before returning to the Beethovenfest and the Munich Philharmonic's performance there in September 2014 of Dvorak's "New World" Symphony. When the composer was invited to New York to lead the music conservatory there, his prospective employers were curious about the man known as the "Bohemian Brahms." As Dvorak wrote: "The Americans expect great things of me. Most of all, I am expected to show them the way to the realm of a new and independent art: in short, to create a national style of music." The composer's fascination with his new environment is reflected in this final symphony to come from his pen. One critic described Dvorak's world therin as "American in spirit, but Czech in atmosphere." Another wrote, "Dr. Dvorak can no longer shed his nationality than a leopard its spots." So despite its American-sounding motifs and melodies - or even because of them - this work has been described as a homesick composer's expression of his love of his homeland from a distance.

Conductor Semyon Bychkov

A much-in-demand maestro: Semyon Bychkov

Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 6 in A Major, third movement
Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Sergiu Celibidache
6646 EMI Classics 556 688-2

Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)
Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, op. 95 (New World)
Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Semyon Bychkov
Recorded by West German Radio, Cologne (WDR) in the Beethoven Hall, Bonn on September 20, 2014

Rebroadcasting rights: one broadcast before January 25, 2016

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